Market Bulls Show Off Their Hooves as Stocks Stampede to Record Highs
In the quirky tango of global currencies, the U.S. dollar kicked off its Thursday dance by taking a graceful step back following a revealing U.S. inflation report. Meanwhile, the euro decided it was time to break free from its recent sulking in the corner and start strutting its stuff, all in anticipation of the European Central Bank’s highly awaited rate-setting extravaganza.
As the clock struck 03:20 ET (07:20 GMT), the Dollar Index, that diligent scorekeeper of the greenback’s performance against a squad of six rival currencies, dipped its toes, or rather, cents, by 0.1%, landing at 104.269. It seems the dollar had set its sights on a decidedly negative week.
But hold onto your top hats and monocles, dear financiers, for the ECB’s rate decision looms large on the horizon. The EUR/USD pair, displaying a newfound swagger, sauntered up by 0.2% to 1.0745, determinedly distancing itself from the pitiful depths it plumbed just last week at 1.0686. Why, you ask? Well, it appears the traders, who are always keen for a front-row seat at the central bank’s monetary theater, are positioning themselves for the ECB’s latest interest rate soirée, set to unfold later in the session.
The central bank’s maestro, President Christine Lagarde, had hinted at a possible pause in the rate-hiking symphony back in late July. But alas, like a captivating plot twist in a financial thriller, expectations have since taken a turn. Now, the audience is leaning toward a spectacular tenth consecutive interest rate crescendo, especially after a riveting Reuters report earlier this week suggested that the ECB’s policy connoisseurs believe that inflation within the sprawling 20-nation eurozone will continue to dance above 3% next year, a decidedly spicy number that boldly outshines its 2% medium-term target. Cue the dramatic music and brace for a night of monetary drama!
CPI looms, Apple’s newest iPhone, Arm’s IPO pricing – what’s moving markets
Investors await the release of fresh economic data on Thursday, as Wall Street considers how a faster-than-anticipated measure of consumer price gains may impact future Federal Reserve policy. Elsewhere, debate swirls around the European Central Bank’s own crucial interest rate decision later today, while British semiconductor designer Arm prices its hotly-anticipated initial public offering at the top end of its indicated guidance.
1. Futures rise with producer prices, retail sales ahead
U.S. stock futures pointed up on Thursday as investors looked ahead to new economic data and weighed the implications of a higher-than-expected inflation reading on Federal Reserve monetary policy.
By 05:26 ET (09:26 GMT), the Dow futures contract had gained by 52 points or 0.2%, S&P 500 futures added 12 points or 0.3%, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed by 64 points or 0.4%.
The main indices on Wall Street were mixed in the prior session, with traders attempting to gauge whether Fed policymakers will pencil in one more interest rate hike this year following the release of the August consumer price index (CPI). The closely-watched measure of inflation in the world’s largest economy accelerated to its fastest level in 14 months due to a surge in petrol prices, although the annual increase in underlying price growth was the lowest in almost two years.
According to Investing.com‘s Fed Rate Monitor Tool, the U.S. central bank is still widely projected to keep borrowing costs at a range of 5.25% to 5.50% at its upcoming meeting later this month. But with indications of stubborn inflationary pressures emerging, markets are projecting a little over a one-in-three chance that Fed officials will opt to raise rates in either November or December.
2. More inflation data looms
The Fed will have a further batch of data to mull over on Thursday, when the U.S. producer price index (PPI) and retail sales figures for August are published at 08:30 ET.
On a monthly basis, the PPI, which aims to measure the prices businesses receive for their goods and services, is seen accelerating from 0.3% to 0.4%, mirroring the jump in consumer prices. Annually, economists expect the rate of increase to pick up slightly to 1.2% from 0.8%.
Retail sales are estimated to have slowed to 0.2% month-on-month from 0.7% in July, in a possible sign that consumers are starting to feel the squeeze from the Fed’s unprecedented campaign of interest rate rises.
Elsewhere, the weekly number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits are predicted to have edged up by 9,000 to 225,000. Jobless claims touched their lowest level since February in the week ended on September 2, suggesting a lingering tightness in the U.S. labor market.
Corraling labor demand and, in turn, wage growth has been a central pillar of the Fed’s long-standing push to tame inflation.
3. ECB’s knife-edge rate decision
The European Central Bank, a major Fed peer, will decide later on Thursday whether to increase interest rates to a record high or keep them steady at already elevated levels.
Despite nine straight rate hikes by the ECB, preliminary readings show that inflation in the 20-country eurozone is now more than twice the Frankfurt-based bank’s 2% target.
However, the ECB’s monetary tightening, coupled with similar policy moves by central banks across the world and weakness in China, have begun to hit the broader eurozone economy. Manufacturing is suffering, while lending has slumped and services have showed early signs of strain, contributing to concerns that the region may slip into a recession.
How ECB officials approach their rate decision has been a cause for intense debate. The economic fears have had many observers predicting that policymakers may skip a rate rise this month, although the case for another hike was boosted after Reuters reported that the ECB will lift its inflation forecast for next year to above 3%.
4. Arm’s top-end IPO pricing
Shares in Arm will begin trading in New York later today after the British chip designer priced its initial public offering at $51 apiece, touching the top end of its indicated range and securing a fully diluted valuation of $54.5 billion.
The listing — the largest since electric-truck maker Rivian’s (NASDAQ:RIVN) roughly $12B debut in 2021 — was fueled by strong demand that saw the stock heavily oversubscribed. Many of Arm’s biggest clients, including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), have already signed up to be cornerstone investors.
The IPO’s value is lower than the $64B Arm-owner SoftBank (TYO:9984) spent last month to acquire the 25% stake in the business it did not already own. However, it is still more than SoftBank’s $40B sale of Arm to Nvidia that was scuttled in 2022 following regulatory opposition.
Arm’s flotation will likely serve as a bellwether for the recently dormant IPO market, which has fallen relatively silent due to economic uncertainty and elevated interest rates.
5. Oil prices hover around 10-month highs
Oil prices rose on Thursday, with traders eyeing predictions for tight supplies over the rest of 2023 and anticipating a solid demand outlook despite an uptick in U.S. crude stockpiles.
The International Energy Agency largely stuck by its estimates for demand growth this year and next in its monthly report on Wednesday, joining the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in expecting oil markets to tighten further this year.
Bolstered by Saudi Arabia and Russia recently extending their oil output cuts, both oil benchmarks hit 10-month highs in the prior session. Markets also largely looked past a 4 million-barrel jump in U.S. crude inventories last week, confounding analysts’ expectations for a drop of around 2 million barrels.
By 05:27 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% higher at $88.97 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.5% to $92.38.
Instacart, once the poster child of grocery delivery, has undergone a truly epic transformation under the wizardry of CEO Fidji Simo. Picture this: a startup, once solely focused on delivering your avocados and almond milk, suddenly decided to dabble in the art of advertising. And boy, did they hit the jackpot! Simo, armed with advertising tricks up her sleeve from her days at Meta, turned the Instacart app into a high-stakes ad battleground, where food brands jostled for the prime digital shelf space.
Lo and behold, the gamble paid off like a winning hand at a Vegas casino. Not only did it transform their fortunes, but it revealed that Instacart was sitting on a goldmine of advertising and software sales, contributing a jaw-dropping one-third of its $2.5 billion in revenue from the previous year. In the first half of this year alone, they rolled in a cool $406 million from ads and software, serving up a mouthwatering $242 million in profit. It’s like Instacart went from delivering groceries to delivering financial surprises with a side of digital marketing pizzazz!
Fed’s September Rate Hike Plans Delayed: Citigroup Predicts November Encore Performance!
Citigroup, once all gung-ho about the Federal Reserve’s September interest rate hike, is now doing a graceful pivot, predicting a November spectacle instead. It’s like the Fed planned a September blockbuster, but now it seems they might be waiting for November sweeps to steal the show.
According to Citigroup’s economic gurus, led by the one and only Andrew Hollenhorst, the recent flirtation with inflation has the Fed contemplating a “pause” button at their upcoming policy meeting. In the world of trading odds, it’s like a 97% chance of a September snooze-fest and a spicy 60% likelihood of a November plot twist, as revealed by the CME FedWatch Tool data. So, if you were eagerly anticipating a September rate hike, you might want to grab some popcorn and settle in for the November sequel.
Smart investing is like navigating a bustling bazaar with a savvy eye for bargains and a knack for spotting hidden gems. It’s a bit like that antique shop where you scored a dusty old lamp, only to discover it was Aladdin’s genie home. In the world of finance, it’s not about blindly following the crowd but savoring the thrill of making your money do the cha-cha while others are doing the hokey-pokey. It’s about patience, strategy, and a pinch of contrarianism, like ordering soup when everyone’s going for salad. So, remember, in the grand casino of investments, being the house can be a lot more fun than playing the slots.